The Federal Government has introduced three bills as part of a package to overhaul the vocational education loan system. The VET Student Loans Bill 2016, the VET Student Loans (Charges) Bill 2016 and the VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016 were all introduced into the House of Representatives on 13 October 2016.
The Bills package axes the previous VET FEE-HELP scheme and will introduce a new scheme, to be known as the VET Student Loans program, from 1 January 2017. Among other things, the new scheme will limit the courses that will be eligible for a loan – previously, all diploma level courses were automatically covered. The Government has released a draft list of 347 courses that it proposes will be eligible, with consultation on the list open until 23 October 2016.
Announcing the scheme earlier this month, Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said in a press release:
“The Turnbull Government’s new VET Student Loans program will return integrity to the vocational education sector and deliver a win-win for students and taxpayers through a range of protections…
We will close off new loans under VET FEE-HELP at the end of 2016, with the new program including course restrictions for providers, loan caps to begin from January 2017 and student engagement requirements commencing from mid-2017.
Central amongst our new program is the need for providers to go through a rigorous application process and extensive monitoring and evaluation to ensure they are delivering education that students and employers value and that taxpayers are willing to continue supporting.”
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the new loans program will:
This Bill sets out the framework for imposing a charge on approved course providers as a tax. The amount charged will be prescribed by regulations. The Explanatory Memorandum says:
“The Charges Bill imposes the charge on providers to fund the VET student loan program including the costs incurred by the Commonwealth in administering the program, data collection and analysis as well as compliance and enforcement activities.”
This Bill deals with the transitional arrangements between the two schemes and consequentially amends a number of other pieces of legislation.
According to the Explanatory Memorandum, these amendments will:
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VET Student Loans Bill 2016, VET Student Loans (Charges) Bill 2016, VET Student Loans (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2016, Explanatory Memorandums & Second Reading Speech - available from TimeBase's LawOne service
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